THE Palace on Saturday said there is no need for Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte to resign because of the service she has done for the Aquino administration.
“It’s a temporary leaving for a temporary commitment for a temporary period and should not imperil our overall service and commitment to the administration,” said Presidential Communication Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III.
Quezon said Valte did the proper thing even as United Nationalist Alliance spokesperson Mon Ilagan said Valte should resign “if she’s still confused as to her job description all these year.”
“Well, as you can see, Abi has not been doing the briefings for some time. As she herself said, she took a leave of absence without pay to help the candidate she believes in. I believe this is the correct and proper thing to do, considering that she wanted to devote herself full-time,” Quezon said.
“Now, on the part of the statements of Mr. Ilagan, I think there is confusion there. What is at stake, what was at stake—and this was the reason for the statements of Ms. Valte—is that there was a free speech question,” he said.
“So, of course, what Mr. Ilagan is trying to do is your standard political gambit of trying to confuse the issue,” he said.
On Valte’s Facebook page, she posted a link of an article where Ilagan said that Valte should resign.
“Hahaha! This is rich, coming from the camp that has been campaigning for the last five and a half years while holding on to their positions in government,” Valte said in her post.
“In true UNA fashion, they have taken a public issue such as censorship and twisted it to suit their needs, completely sidestepping the question of whether it is legal or not. [But] why am I even surprised?” Valte said.
Valte in a separate interview said that her decision to go on leave of absence was with the President’s knowledge and permission. She said she filed her LOA on Jan. 9 and it is in effect on Monday.
“I consider it a high honor to have been able to serve alongside President Aquino for a full six years when he steps down on June 30,” Valte said.
When asked if Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who rarely presiding the briefing since late last year, will also file his resignation to devote himself full-time to Roxas’ campaign, Quezon said it is unlikely.
“I don’t see why, because Secretary Lacierda is the spokesperson of the President and is working for the President,” Quezon said.
“Again, let’s go back to why Abi decided to take this leave, it’s because she wanted to devote herself full-time [to] the candidate she believes in,” he added.
Valte griped on Thursday against the agency’s rules which, she said, was a prior restraint and an infringement of the right to free speech.
But Bautista assured Valte that she can freely express her political views for or against any candidate because jurisprudence on the matter has already established that she is not covered by the prohibition.
“If you are a political appointee, you are not prohibited [from engaging in partisan politics],” Bautista said, adding that elected officials are also not covered by the prohibition.
“The President himself is not prohibited. Cabinet members are not barred because they are appointed officials,” Bautista said.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10049, “personal opinions, views, and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs and micro-blogs, shall not be considered as acts of election campaigning or partisan political activity unless expressed by government officials in the Executive Department, the Legislative Department, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and members of the Civil Service.”
Violation of the said provision will constitute an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification from holding public office.